Those who know me well know that I’m an animal person. Not a crazy cat lady type, but I do enjoy having a dog in the house.
When I got a puppy named Bobby about thirty years ago, I hadn’t had a dog since high school. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that someone (not me) teased that poor dog mercilessly, and that gave him a whole lot of attitude. I truly loved him, but when you can’t trust a dog not to snap at someone, it’s hard.
I’m not sure when I first learned about rescue websites, but after Bob’s demise, I adopted a PBGV, a breed I’d never heard of before. Higgins was a sweetie who must have been an owner surrender because he was so well-trained. He was gentle and kind, and little kids could go face to face and he’d just smile and give them kisses. Sadly, congestive heart failure meant that Higgins was only with us for a couple of years.
The next rescue was a little Maltese girl named Stella. She came straight from a puppy mill and was completely feral. With a lot of time and patience, Stella learned to trust us, she learned to do her business outside, and she even started to seek attention. But even after she was tamed she still had quirks. One of those was that you couldn’t pick her up looking face-to-face. Instead, she’d run over, sit down with her back to you, and then you could pick her up. We had Stella into old age.
After Stella came Roy, a toy poodle. What a great dog! Another obvious owner surrender, he was totally domesticated, and it was fun to discover which commands he knew. He surprised us by jumping up into our arms with no warning, and he was cuddly and affectionate. Our entire family was with this sweetheart a couple of years later when renal failure meant that he had to leave us way too soon.
The next rescue, and current dog, is Bruce, a Shih Tzu. He was the quietest, the most introverted, and the most frightened dog I’ve ever met. For the first few months he sat on the couch in the corner of our kitchen, not moving and not making a peep. He’d do his business when we took him outside, and then go right back to his watching spot. He’d only eat and drink when we were asleep. Extremely sensitive to noise, the smallest sound — like silverware clinking together — would send him running from the room. He didn’t like to be held. He was a sweet dog, but hard to bond with because he was so withdrawn. Over the 4+ years we’ve had him, he has developed into a quiet, lovely dog, who likes to be held and is far more interactive. He loves spending his days outside on the porch, chilling in the summertime, and wrapped in many blankets in the winter. When he’s inside, he doesn’t do anything, he just hangs out in his bed. He still doesn’t bark.
Sadly, Bruce has no idea how to play with toys, but he has started engaging with our kids’ dog when he visits, and it warms my heart to see them tussle. This is what planted the thought that perhaps I should get Bruce his very own pet. I decided to watch for a small quiet dog who wouldn’t overwhelm him, and who he could learn to play with. Today that wish came true, and ten-month-old Frances joined our family. Literally right off the bus from Texas, Frances is a chihuahua cross, about ten months old. So far she’s very quiet, but just a few hours after arriving, she’s playing with toys.
Bruce’s personal jury is out about this interloper, and I think he’s wishing he could buy her a one-way ticket back to the Lone Star State, but I’m sure that will change. She goes to him politely, backing off when he shows no interest, which is the perfect approach. Of course, I wanted them to fall into each others’ arms immediately, with hugs and kisses, and Bruce saying, “Where have you been all my life?” but that’s okay. I think that with a bit of time, and not forcing the issue, they will be best buddies before too long.
Welcome home, Frances. We’re happy to have you here, and so is Bruce. Just wait and see.